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Career Corner: Consider a Career in Biotech

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Biological drugs, biofuels, industrial biocatalysts, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are among the many product breakthroughs that are driving tremendous growth in the biotechnology sector. If you are intrigued by how these novel products are developed or want to get involved in this biotech boom, then consider a career move to the biotechnology industry.

While cutting-edge developments in biotech may make it seem like a new field, it is, in fact, quite ancient. Many familiar products, such as beer, wine, cheese, and bread, depend on biological processes or organisms. Károly Ereky, a Hungarian agricultural engineer, coined the term “biotechnology” in 1919 when he predicted that biology could be purposefully used to manufacture products intended to improve the quality of human life.

The biotechnology industry of today is organized into ten subspecialties and each is associated with a particular color. The primary subspecialties of biotech are associated with red, white, green, and yellow, but there are additional subsets and colors. Red biotech includes medical and pharmaceutical products and processes; white involves biocatalysis for industrial processes; green applies to agriculture, including GMOs; and yellow relates to food production.

Nasim Mansoori, a scientist at Zymergen (Emeryville, CA), notes a need for ChEs in biotech: “The emerging field of synthetic biology — in...

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